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How to be a successful real estate agent (even if you’re starting out) by Ryan Serhant

Ryan Serhant began his first day in the real estate business on September 15, 2008 – the same day that Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy in the wake of the subprime mortgage collapse. He is now one of the most successful brokers in the world, with agents under his leadership in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami and the Hamptons.

Ryan now has a course called “Sell it like Serhant”. Here are seven tips that Ryan swears by, even if you are just starting out as a real estate agent.

Step 1: Work for free as an intern

Ryan says you need to find the best real estate agent in your neighbourhood and work for them for free.

Being an intern probably means you will do a lot of things you don’t like such as getting coffee, shredding paper, getting dry cleaning – you know the drill.

But if you do the job well, Ryan says it’s going to give you an opportunity first-hand to see if real estate is really for you. And if you do a good job as an intern, you should have a ready-made position in a team with a top performer.

Step 2: Get licensed

Ryan’s second tip is to get your real estate licence. Ryan says ask whoever you just did your internship with where they got their real estate licence and go to the same place (assuming it’s in the state/territory you want to sell in).

Ryan recommends studying with a buddy so you can keep each other accountable on your learning journey.

Step 3: Join a team

Ryan says he worked by himself when he started out, and he didn’t really know what to do. But he also says he’s seen a lot of people working on their own who end up quitting; ie real estate can be a lonely business.

Once again, if you did step one, Ryan says that a mentor is your easiest way into a team that has all the resources, knowledge and know-how to be your continuing education after you get your licence.

Step 4: Build your sphere of influence

There are two separate ways Ryan says you should build your ‘sphere’; firstly your warm sphere (eg your Mum, Dad other family members, school buddies, Facebook friends, IG followers) because it’s likely your first clients will come from that warm sphere of influence.

The second sphere is your cold sphere. Ryan explains these are people you meet on the street, in the coffee shop, in the community.

Step 5: Set up your day for success

Ryan calls this finder, keeper, doer – and he has an ideal week in his calendar.

  • Finder = putting on your CEO hat. That’s setting time in your calendar every day to go out and think about how you’re going to build your new business as an entrepreneur because that’s really what real estate agents are.
  • Keeper = put on your CFO hat. Keeper time is time you’re going to focus on advertising and money. How am I going to go out there and spend money to generate leads. Ryan suggests that could be something simple like taking the $10 you have in your pocket and buying coffees for clients. Maybe that’s doing a mailer and putting stamps on postcards. Whatever it might be, Ryan says you need to spend money to market yourself.
  • Doer = the Operations. That’s you putting the stamps on the postcard, showing homes, picking up the phone, meeting people etc.

Step 6: The Three F’s, follow up, follow-through, follow back.

Ryan says he’s pretty much built his entire business through the finder keeper doer structure, working with other agents, “networking his butt off” and The Three F’s.

  • The first F is follow-up. Ryan says that’s making sure everyone he meets on the street, everyone he talks to gets a follow-up because when one of these people think of real estate, Ryan wants them to think of him.
  • The second F is follow-through. Ryan says this is the hardest thing for some people but it’s actually just doing what you say you are going to do. If you tell someone you are going to give them information at a certain time, make sure you do it.
  • The third F is following back. Anyone that you’ve ever met, anyone you’ve ever worked with, going back to them. eg Happy Birthday, congrats on your house-iversary, the house across the street from you just sold for a record price. Aren’t you happy you got the deal you did?

Step 7: Become a people finder.

Ryan says, “You are not a real estate agent, You’re not real estate. You’re not anything else. You are someone who goes out and finds people all day, every day”.

It’s your job to find people – people who want to rent, people who want to buy, people who want to sell, and you want to find other real estate agents.

Here are some ways suggested by Ryan.

  • Build real estate agent relationships next to you, both in your office and other offices.
  • Go to other people’s open houses, go to broker open houses, go to networking events where other real estate like-minded people are and become part of the conversation.
  • Meet new people through social media by using the right hashtags.
  • Meet new people through DM on Twitter
  • LinkedIn is also a great way to network

A final tip from Ryan:

“Think about professional athletes. They make so much money. They spend 95 per cent of their time practising and only 5 per cent of their time, in their life, playing games that we watch.

“Salespeople, for some reason, don’t think that way. They spend 95 per cent of their time in games, meaning they’re with clients, talking to people on the phone, not practising, not studying at all, thinking to themselves, “Oh, I’ll just get more experience and I’ll learn more,” and then they spend maybe 5 per cent of their time maybe taking a course here and there.

Train, focus and study being the best salesperson you can be.

Ryan’s book Sell it Like Serhant is available here

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